IMF and BoC Kill Risk FX

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Back from my CNBC Squawk Box interview and currencies are on the move! European currencies fell sharply after the International Monetary Fund cut its Eurozone and U.K. growth forecasts. While the IMF expects the global economy to perform better this year than last, a potential contraction in Eurozone growth led them to downgrade their 2013 global growth forecast to 3.5 from 3.6%. The IMF isn’t drinking the kool-aid – they don’t believe that the rise in German stocks and the decline in European bond yields will boost business and consumer spending enough for the Eurozone to grow this year. Their dire forecast for a 0.2% contraction in Eurozone growth sent the EUR/USD tumbling. High unemployment and a 1.5% decline in GDP is expected to contribute the most to weaker growth but Germany, the region’s largest economy is also expected to grow a mere 0.6% versus a prior forecast of 0.9% this year.

The GBP/USD also gave up nearly all of its post jobless claims gains after the IMF lowered its U.K. growth forecasts to 1% this year from a prior forecast of 1.1%. 2014 growth estimates was also cut to 1.9% from 2.2%. The agency’s projections are now lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility’s official forecasts. After these reductions, the U.S. will be the fastest growing western nation with GDP growth expected at 2% this year.

Meanwhile the Canadian dollar also took a tumble following the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy announcement. While the central bank did not abandon its desire to raise interest rates, their motivation to do so has declined. Interest rates were left unchanged at 1% and according to the BoC, “higher interest rates are less imminent.” Concerns about a weaker global economic outlook, persistent currency strength and weaker consumer spending led the central bank to reduce its 2013 GDP forecasts from 2.3% to 2.0%. Growth in 2014 was revised higher but that did not draw away from the fact that the BoC expects weaker growth in the near term. Apparently, the central bank does not believe that the strong job growth experienced over the past few months will translate into stronger support for the economy. Central bank Governor Carney elaborated on the decision shortly thereafter, saying that the “direction of interest rate moves is clear but the timing has changed.” With the BoC softening its hawkish monetary policy bias, USD/CAD has risen to a 2 month high and is poised for a test of parity.

Kathy Lien
Managing Director

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